Michael Spector, a freelance writer who grew up going to racetracks with his father, is the winner of the fourth annual Ron Rippey Award for Handicapping Media for his “2017 Kentucky Derby Pace Thesis” that appeared on RacingDudes.com ahead of this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.
Spector will accept the award and $1,000 cash prize at the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) Awards Dinner on Thursday, November 2, at the Brigantine restaurant and bar that overlooks both the Pacific Ocean and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club—site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 3-4 near San Diego.
Spector, 38, lives in Mechanicville, New York, about 25 miles southeast of Saratoga Race Course. Known as @SaratogaSlim on Twitter, Spector describes himself as most interested in handicapping topics related to pace, fan education, and Thoroughbred aftercare.
“A lot of work went into this to explain a complex topic clearly and keep the reader interested and engaged,” said Jessie Oswald, the NTWAB secretary who served as a Rippey Award judge along with Team Valor’s Jeff Lowe. “This was written about the Kentucky Derby, but there was an education element to it that could apply to any race.”
An additional entry received an honorable mention from Oswald and Lowe: “Inside Horse Racing’s ‘Hunger Games’” by Alex Scordelis that appeared on RollingStone.com. The Rippey Award is open to any article, blog post, or video pertaining to a handicapping topic published (in print or online) in the past year.
Rippey won the 2006 NHC and was a 10-time qualifier for the prestigious event. He also contributed his handicapping thoughts to the Newark Star-Ledger and Brisnet.com.
“Handicapping horse races is both an art and a science, and the ability to produce compelling content about the topic is a specialty that deserves recognition,” Brisnet.com Director of Marketing Ed DeRosa said. “We not only want to acknowledge the good work done in this regard but also encourage people to continue to produce this type of content. Who better to honor than successful handicapper and newspaper columnist Ron Rippey?”
“Ron’s enthusiasm for both playing the game and writing about it was infectious,” DeRosa said. “He wanted to beat you, but he wanted everyone to have fun, too, which is the essence of a good day at the races.”